Many people have said that Lin-Manuel Miranda’s elevator pitch for his hyper-successful show about the ten dollar founding father was awful. The crowd laughed when Miranda introduced the working draft of what became the show’s opening number, “Alexander Hamilton,” at the White House Poetry Jam in 2009.
I remember my high school AP U.S. History teacher showing us that video and we all thought it was silly. Flash forward nearly seven years later, and I’m happily coughing up $185 for crap seats at the Broadway production. That’s for the ticket alone, and it was worth it. Although, it’s obvious Miranda had the last laugh.
Click the link in the tweet, it’s worth it.
Even cast members have acknowledged that the show’s concept seemed silly.
“It’s a rap musical about Alexander Hamilton, and I said that’s a terrible idea,” Daveed Diggs, who originated the roles of Marquis de Lafayette and Thomas Jefferson in Hamilton, said in an interview with Rebecca Jarvis. “Then, once I heard the music … it made the most sense. You couldn’t believe it hadn’t been done yet.”
A lot of people still aren’t getting past Miranda’s elevator pitch, despite it’s wide success, and other’s just aren’t a fan or the music or hate the show because people are talking about it too much.
So why is it so popular? One very interesting theory says that it’s popular because it’s so easily sharable. The cast recording was released on Spotify, which made it extremely easy to say, “Hey, you have to listen to this show. It’s on Spotify.”
I know I said that quite a few times when I was trying to introduce friends to the show, and this is how I was able to get into it. After seeing the performance at the Grammys, I was able to listen to the whole album online without having to purchase it (not including my Spotify Premium payments).
Others agree that making the album available online was a good move.
I would like to point out that most shows release an original cast recording (OBC) shortly after opening, which in the case of Hamilton, was as the show began to gain popularity. I would argue that the height of the show’s popularity was actually early 2016, rather than late mid-2015, when the OBC was released.
This sharing theory can apply to other shows, like Dear Evan Hansen, which has quickly gained a large fanbase and challenges Hamilton for the “best show on Broadway” spot. The Evan Hansen OBC was also released on Spotify, where people—myself included—quickly devoured the entire show and spread it to potentially interested friends.
So, maybe future shows should take note. Make your cast recording available through a streaming service as soon as it releases, so that it’s easily accessible and sharable.